On the 20th Anniversary of the Minnesota Wild’s first-ever NHL game, the Wild select Marco Rossi with the Ninth overall pick.
The wait is over! Draft Day is here and after several curveballs were thrown earlier in the draft, both Marco Rossi and Cole Perfetti became available at Pick 9. And with that pick, the Wild took:
Center, Marco Rossi of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s
The 5’9″, 183lb Austrian Center just led the CHL in scoring this past season with 39 goals and 81 assists for 120 total points. It’s well known the Wild needs to improve their skill and strength down the middle and with Marco Rossi, there may not be a better solution available.
His Ottawa 67’s coach, André Tourigny likens him to Ryan O’ Reilly, Mark Stone, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. On the NBCSN Draft Coverage, the panel compared him to Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom. If any are true, there may not be better options with Rossi available at 9th overall. Whatever your thoughts may be on +/-, it should be noted he led the OHL with a +69 rating, often facing the best players on the opposition.
Why did he slide then? Likely his size. At 5′ 9″, Rossi is four inches shorter than the average height in the league, and there are only a few examples of top-line undersized Centers (example: Sidney Crosby 5′ 11″ and Brayden Point 5′ 10″). Still, when asked, Tourigny made his opinion on Rossi’s NHL position clear:
“I understand people doubt his size and everything, but time will show them,” he said. “They will see.”
Corey Pronman of The Athletic ranked him the 9th best prospect available in the draft, specifically citing Marco Rossi’s Hockey IQ, stick handling, and passing ability. He does have concerns about his size and doesn’t believe his speed is anything to write home about.
Scott Wheeler, also of The Athletic, ranks him 3rd overall and will go as far as to say as he is the best Defensive Forward in the draft. Wild fans may be a bit shy of that, thinking he might turn into Austrian Joel Eriksson Ek/Mikko Koivu, but I can assure you, that isn’t the case.
Something I love about the selection: He’s nearly NHL ready. The NBCSN panel noted his fitness and workout regiment is on the level of some NHL players. Could we even see him this upcoming season? Who knows. I’m incredibly curious to see where this goes, and I’m certain General Manager Bill Guerin will let us know in the coming days.
As I posted the original version of this piece, Russo sprinkled this into the Twitter-Verse
Wild fans are clearly thrilled to have Marco Rossi in the organization. Here are some of the initial reactions to the selection:
We’ll end with this one from local legend Pat Micheletti.
The dreams of Rossi playing between Fiala and Kaprizov are already beginning to dance in our heads.
Let’s. Play. Hockey.